·        In a case initiated in 2006, the government prosecuted a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming for shooting a bald eagle for use in a traditional religious ceremony without a permit; on appeal, the 10th Circuit reversed the district court’s finding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act precludes the government from prosecuting the defendant, and remanded the case for trial.  

Ms. Colbourn was a hired gun that used legal violence to protect big government when big government does damaging and hurtful things:

·        In the early-to-late 1990s, Ms. Colbourn assisted in the defense of various environmental claims brought against governmental agencies.  As an example, Ms. Colbourn was involved in defending a case filed in 1996 challenging regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Commerce that allegedly had a disastrous impact on small fishing boat operations; the district court granted summary judgment for the government. 

·        Ms. Colbourn was also involved in defending a pro se case filed in 1994 against various governmental agencies alleging that they have addressed inadequately the impact of Coast Guard activities on various endangered marine mammals; the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants. 

WHY IS BIG GOVERNMENT SPENDING OUR MONEY TO HARM ORDINARY CITIZENS AND SMALL BUSINESS?

Is this big powerful Washington law enforcement weapon protecting us, or is it following its own self-centered agenda?  If big oil lays waste to an entire section of the country, is responsible for loss of life, loss of wildlife and habitat and causes billions in economic damage the Washington law enforcement club is put away – silent.  If the government causes harm to endangered animals, out comes the club to protect who?

Two strong American values are reason and common sense.  These American values are being trampled. Ordinary citizens are being trampled by Washington interests with Washington agendas.

Image002

American values of caring for our fellow citizens and having honest and open dialogue are replaced by legal terrorism and shoot first tactics. 

What is the end result for our citizens and our country from the above enforcement actions?  Are these the first steps in erasing American values and the American dream?

We must hold our government leaders accountable.

Gibson has still not been given any proof of wrong doing. Yet an ordinary citizen, a production worker was threatened with 5 years in jail and a felony conviction.  That employee was not a buyer of wood, but was Gibson’s representative on a mission to support conservation partners. 

The law that is being enforced is not US law, but the laws of another country that have suffered a coup and is under a dictatorship.  What makes the wood unlawful are the regulations of this impoverished country whose laws and documents are in French.  The Lacey act is not about conservation, but about enforcing the laws in countries from which goods are sourced, no matter the reason the laws exist.

Yet the cost is real, thousands of dollars spent by Gibson, and much more spent by big government to persecute us.  The fear on the part of our workers is real.  The damage to our reputation is real.

Ultimately, the President, and Congress make the decisions that direct big government.  The people we elect to do what we believe is right are responsible and should be held accountable. 

·        The only way to insure these powerful people do what we want them to is to tell them.  Write to them.  Write to your friends.  Vote for those people who believe in fair play, dialogue and American values. 

·        Our case is but one in many.  We will continue to cooperate because we did nothing wrong, and I believe we will prevail.  But if we win this case we will have lost time, money and reputation. The tax payer has paid to the bill to persecute Gibson.

Is this where America is going?  Is this where we should go?  I pray not.


We must work to stop this useless harassment and abuse.  We must protect our citizens and small businesses.  Our weapons need to be focused on bad guys and not ordinary citizens trying to honor their religious traditions.  Only if we grow into a large and loud group committed to this change do we have a chance at a better future.  As individuals, the powerful interests in Washington will continue to abuse us.  Those who support these un-American terrorist tactics should be voted out of office.

Write your members of congress.  Write to the President.  Write to you friends and have them spread the word.  Let change the world and restore American values of fair play, cooperation and protect our citizens from mean and hostile abuse. 

Let us together move to a better world.

Henry E. Juszkiewicz

CEO

Gibson Guitar Corp.  

Image004

The man holding the guitar could be guilty of violating the Lacey Act and is subject to prosecution and a jail term even if he does not know of any wrong doing if this happened after May of 2008.

…anyone who … received, acquired, or purchased the wood products made from … illegal timber, who knew or should have known that the wood was illegal, may be prosecuted for violation of the Lacey Act

The following text is from a hand written letter that was delivered to the White House on June 25, 2010 and accepted by Johnny Casey.  It was sent to the President’s correspondence department on June 30th.  No reply of any kind as of September 20th, 2010.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I would like to present a situation I find myself and my company in and ask your opinion on what I can do to address this issue.  Secondly, I would ask you if there is a better way to accomplish public policy objectives, or do you believe this is the way things should work.

WHAT HAPPENED

On November of 2009, without warning or prior communication, approximately 30 armed agents of Bureau of Wildlife invaded our main Gibson Guitar Factory in Nashville TN.  They had full swat attire, interrupted production and evacuated our entire work force of about 300 people.  They confiscated approximately $300,000 worth of fingerboard blanks that were on pallets.

The agents, allowed the work force to return, but immediately started to interrogate individuals setting them up in rooms with several armed agents present.  They remained in our factory for most of the day before moving to our corporate offices where they proceeded to copy all our data (with our full cooperation).  Our people were intimidated and fearful.

This episode immediately made the local television news where news of the raid was broadcast with my name and picture.  This event quickly went national and was picked up by the New York Times.   Social media took this news and implicated myself and our company in wrong doing.

We have fully cooperated with the ensuing investigation.

More than 7 months after the raid, we have not been charged with any wrong doing, and we were told that whatever triggered this aggressive and hostile action was sealed and we would not be told who our accuser was or what served as the basis of any accusations.   There has been no timeline that has been given by which some determination will be made, and we have been subject to increased level investigation.

We, of course, had to get counsel involved which to date has cost us approximately $200,000 and the meter is running.

BACKGROUND

We are the leading manufacture of electric guitars.  We have been increasing our US work force and successfully competing against larger foreign competitor like Yamaha Corp.  We have increased exports, brought jobs to several US communities, and I believe have generally been good citizens.  We have not asked for government handouts or supports.

I have personally been involved with leading conservation organizations, and have been on the Board of the Rainforest Alliance.  We have supported these organizations financially and promotionally, and have implemented an aggressive program to use wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Counsel (FSC).  We are audited annually and have worked to increase the percentage of wood which is certified.

I was a lead organizer working with Green Peace to try to have Sealaska certify the natural spruce forests by organizing guitar builders to insist on certification and offer a lucrative market for the certified wood.

As a result of the raid and subsequent publicity, I removed myself from involvement with conservation groups to protect them from any adverse implications of the government action.

WHAT I BELIEVE

We have done an exhaustive internal investigation and have not found any activity that is illegal or inappropriate.  We did not buy the wood which was confiscated directly but used a broker of long standing which services virtually every company in our industry and has a good reputation.  This type of wood is used commonly by every guitar maker, and sourcing relationships are decades long.

I asked my conservation contacts and company personnel why this wood was not already certified, as we had a firm commitment to certify all wood being used.  I was told that this type of wood is almost impossible to certify because of the nature of the supply chain.  Certification works well when wood is grown on plantations, or controlled forests.  The nature of the trees used is that they do not grow together, but instead are spread out through a forest (one tree here, one tree there).  Therefore, the procurement is done via auction where indigent individuals will bring a single log to market.  There are laws and paperwork required to allow the log into the auction, but these are very poor people in the areas where this wood grows and there is a huge incentive to forge documents, and consequently a very limited ability to establish whether the wood is harvested lawfully.

I believe that all the wood we procured had the appropriate paperwork showing it was lawful.  There is clearly an issue in the supply chain for anyone buying this type of wood.  This does not allow what I consider the best approach, which is a full third party certification.  Again, we have not found any wrongdoing on anyone’s part, but the supply chain in general has problems.

WHAT WE ARE DOING

We have been fully cooperating with the investigation.  In addition, we have commissioned an aggressive effort to try to improve the supply chain issue by expanding our partnership with the Rainforest Alliance and another independent group to certify a “chain of custody” trying to insure lawful sourcing back to the individual tree.  This requires cooperation and transparency in every transaction by every party in the supply chain with a 3rd party audit.

We have already started to implement this system and will expect to have this in place in approximately one year (we have a detailed project schedule).  This system is being implemented in all our manufacturing facilities whether inside the US or not.

WHY ARE WE ATTACKED, WHY WERE WE SINGLED OUT

I am confused and can only believe that someone is intentionally trying to hurt our company.  When I have an issue that needs to be addressed, I do not believe it is appropriate to club a person over the head without some dialogue and attempt to communicate I have an issue.

I and Gibson have had our reputations irreparably damage, our employees frightened, and a significant financial and emotion burden put upon us without the benefit of any meaningful dialogue or indication of wrong doing.  It has injured us competitively.

I will ask you for your thoughts:

1.      What I can do to address this issue.

2.      Secondly, is there is a better way to accomplish public policy objectives, or do you believe this is the way things should work.

Sincerely

Henry

Henry E. Juszkiewicz

Chief Executive Officer

Gibson Guitar Corp.

309 Plus Park

Nashville, TN 37217  USA

Executive Assistant: Leeanne Nichols

615-871-4500  Extension 2405

615-884-9405  (FAX)

                 My forum:                      http://4henry.gibson.com

My blog (comments and news):   http://4henry.com

                  Twitter:                         http://twitter.com/henryej

 

http://www.gibson.com

Image001

Image003

Related posts: